TREAT Newsletter Cool Season April - June 2011

Coming Field Day - Saturday 21st May, 2pm

Ken and Sue Pyke have transformed their block of land into a very attractive and productive farm and TREAT will hold a field day there on Saturday 21st May at 2pm. After a walk through the extensive garden area we will drive down to the dam and gully to look at the revegetation project in progress there, driving past orchards on the way. Afternoon tea will conclude the field day, relaxing in a gazebo with stunning views in all directions. The address is RN 152 Eastern Connection Road, off Powley Road, off the Gillies Highway east of Lake Barrine. Look for the TREAT signs.

Sunset Ridge

Sue Pyke

Ken and I purchased this clear-felled and weed covered property in 1988, while working in the Northern Territory. On our annual holidays for the next seven years, we would visit our domain with our three children. Somewhere along the way we joined TREAT to learn the ins and outs of tree planting - and had lovely morning teas!

Our aim was to clean the place up, grow grass instead of weeds and plant trees. So with chainsaw, poison, electric car winch, slash and burn method, we eventually had less weed and more grass. Things really started to progress after our house was built in 1995 and we moved from the Territory in 1996 to live here permanently.

The big decision now was how to make the property return a profit - and we are still trying to work that out! A friend suggested we plant Davidson Plum (Davidsonia pruriens) trees as the fruit makes great wine and jam. We thought that if the venture didn't succeed we'd at least have some lovely trees. Finding a stock of seedlings was a problem but we began planting in 1999 and just kept on planting, starting our second orchard in 2002. 'Larry' came along in 2006 and severely pruned the first orchard and flattened the second, but also sorted out the government funded tree plantings of eucalypts, a blessing in disguise! The orchards took three years to recover, just in time for 'Tasha' and 'Yasi'! Nature's pruning methods are questionable.

Over the years Ken has become obsessed with planting trees. On weekends he is not satisfied unless he has planted at least one tree, and happier if he gets 100 in the ground. We are now planting windbreaks/ shelter belts and revegetating gully areas. Our blank canvas is no longer blank - but not yet fully covered.


Inside this issue

The Beaten Track

Cyclone Yasi

The Learning Never Stops

Which Trees and Why

The Wet Season Plantings

Nursery News

Fruit Collection Diary

This newsletter is kindly sponsored by Biotropica Australia Pty Ltd.

www.biotropica.com.au»


The Beaten Track - A Journey Through Yasi's Footprint

Bryony Barnett

I know this journey will be different as I leave Kairi in early February on one of my regular drives south to Townsville. The highway has just reopened after Cyclone Yasi battered a 400 km stretch of coastal North Queensland, between Cairns and Townsville, and inland as far as Mount Isa on 2-3 February. The North's last major cyclone in 2006, Cyclone Larry, gave us a taste of what to expect from Yasi, and a benchmark for comparison of impacts on our native vegetation.

Heading south through the agricultural landscape around Malanda and Millaa Millaa there are patchy signs of tree damage along the road and fence lines - broken branches, leaf litter and the occasional fallen tree. This time the northern Tablelands has come off relatively lightly, but less so further south.

I recall images of Larry's devastation as I approach the Palmerston Highway which snakes its way down through Wooroonooran National Park, one of the largest areas of intact forest in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. I'm relieved that Yasi's footprint is lighter here. But a glimpse through Crawford's Lookout at the bottom of the range reveals brown scorches in the sea of green, as if a blow torch has been taken to the exposed ridges on the foothills of Mt Bartle Frere. Geoff Tracey's original description of this 'complex mesophyll vine forest' tells us that the forest is used to cyclones, inferring that it has a high capacity to recover - but so soon after Cyclone Larry?

"Ridges of foothills exposed to frequent cyclone damage have conspicuous broken-canopied forests with 'climber towers' and vine tangles locally termed 'cyclone scrubs'." (J G Tracey 1982. The Vegetation of the Humid Tropical Region of North Queensland, CSIRO.)

Emerging from the forest, at the entrance to the MaMu Rainforest Canopy Walk, rangers are assessing damage to trees planted by QPWS and TREAT in 2008. The pioneer species that were doing so well have been beaten down. I learn later that the MaMu walkway, built post-Larry, was damaged, but quickly reopened.

Leaving the frayed forest behind, the damage to vegetation increases. We've all seen images of bananas post-cyclone - a mass of upturned Vs, bowing in ragged unison, the weight of their bounty unable to withstand the wind's force. I see more of the same, all the way to the Bruce Highway, against a backdrop of scarred hills with bristled profiles. This looks more like I remember after Larry.

I've never forgotten the sadness I felt when I saw the shredded rainforest between Innisfail and Tully, first after Cyclone Winifred in 1986, then Larry in 2006, and now Yasi - not again! Overnight, the fresh green lowland rainforest remnants have been reduced to walls of leafless brown trunks and jagged stumps of broken trees strung with shredded vines, opening up new views and revealing the true extent of the forest, in some places merely a veneer. With due respect to the local communities who have suffered terrible loss of property, my focus here is on the vegetation and its communities. What happens to all the native wildlife in a storm of this magnitude?

The road to Mission Beach is blocked but the media has shown us the devastation to the coastal rainforest tourist settlement and nearby Dunk Island. The palm-filled coastal rainforest remnants are among the few remaining viable areas of cassowary habitat. Already under pressure, the small local population of the endangered Southern Cassowary will face further loss of habitat, desperate food shortages, and increased risks from cars and dogs.

The new commercial eucalypt plantations around El Arish which were just starting to stamp their mark on the landscape are now reduced to a tangle of skinny stumps and rusty red branches. A venture stopped in its tracks.

As expected, the forest carnage continues as I progress through the severely wounded landscape of Tully, Kennedy, and on to Cardwell. The very destructive core of Yasi made landfall here with wind strengths estimated at around 285 km/hr. The Cardwell foreshore, where I sat with English visitors a month ago, has been thrown up onto the highway and around shattered homes. The surviving gnarled Callophyllums and beach almonds, many leafless with naked roots, are slumped seawards, midway up a new beach profile. An army of trucks clears sand from the highway while through traffic is urged to keep moving. I click my camera from the dashboard.

A huge crane is busy at Port Hinchinbrook lifting crushed yachts from the marina. The foreshore mangroves we fought hard to conserve in 1993 are shredded and the sea sparkles innocently through the grey tangled remains of the Cardwell Melaleuca Walking Track, now littered with debris from new homes built in the 'erosion prone zone'.

Feeling gloomy I proceed past toppled paperbarks in the swampy melaleuca and eucalypt woodlands inland of Hinchinbrook Channel, home to dwindling populations of the delicate Mahogany Glider. The precious habitat of this endangered mammal is restricted to a narrow coastal strip between Tully and south of Ingham. With an estimated population of under 2000 animals remaining, survivors will be struggling to find food and shelter in the blasted forest.

The native forest is further fragmented by commercial pine plantations. The usually dark and upright pine forests lining the highway south of Cardwell have taken on light and curves. Splintered trunks lie parallel at the feet of spindly survivors, arcing almost gracefully towards the north-west. I wonder if this timber has any value now. Was it really worth clearing the natives?

On through the Cardwell Range, already badly scarred by works for the major road realignment, I'm briefly comforted by new views of majestic Hinchinbrook Island, seen through leafless limbs. I wonder how the eastern slopes of the island have fared, and the unique fringing reef of the offshore Brook Islands. Oh dear!

Pine Plantation near Cardwell

Pine Plantation near Cardwell (photo B. Barnett)

There are signs of the receding floods as I cross the Herbert River and enter Ingham. Large spreading figs full of staghorns are down in the main street, their lifted roots draped with a ferny green blanket. South of the town the vista finally improves. It's the first time I've regarded the canefield landscape as attractive but after three hours of driving past shattered trees it's easy on the eye. There are more fallen trees in the state forests along the highway. The ridges of the Paluma Range beyond - the southern extent of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area - bear visible scars.

The destructive winds in the southern sector of Cyclone Yasi battered the Townsville area for over 30 hours. It's no wonder that I'm greeted by uprooted trees and broken branches all through the streets. Mountains of debris are growing in the suburbs. A subsequent review estimates that over 60,000 trees were damaged in Townsville's residential areas - mostly exotic species like African Mahogany, Golden Raintree and Pink Tabebuia, with heavy crowns and shallow roots. The Council has a tree war on its hands.

I'm welcomed home by the unusual sight of a displaced Wompoo Pigeon feasting on the fruit of a neighbour's Alexandra palm. This beautiful visitor has had a far tougher journey than mine.

The road to recovery

Just a few weeks after the cyclone, while managers implement essential response and recovery actions, the 'Yasied' vegetation shows independent signs of recovery. New shoots are sprouting on torn limbs and fresh leaves are greening the landscape again. Tattered Alexandra Palms in Mission Beach's shattered forests have burst into flower promising new life and food for hungry wildlife. The bananas have grown in stature, with strong leaves coiling from broken stems. There's a long way to go to heal the wounds, and a lot to learn about the impacts of Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi on the environment, but the process is in full swing. Experience has taught us that, with ongoing care and good management, the natural forests can recover - hopefully before the next blast.


Cyclone Yasi and the Natural Environment

Rowena Grace

Cyclone Yasi struck a heavy blow to both our regional communities and natural environment. But in the same way that people mobilised to assist each other, volunteers, Non-Government Organisations and Governments have worked together to help out our threatened wildlife and some heartening stories are emerging.

The post-Yasi natural environment response has focussed on providing support to endangered species, the Southern Cassowary and the Mahogany Glider, as well as caring for wildlife in general. To minimise further damage to habitat and endangered ecosystems in the clean-up effort, many people in councils, government departments and other organisations have been working to train contractors and get information out to landholders and others involved. This has been especially urgent for the critically endangered Littoral Rainforest ecosystem on the coast.

An area from Flying Fish Point south to the Cardwell Range, taking in Mission Beach, Tully and Cardwell, was the most severely impacted, with some parts of the Atherton Tableland and Ingham areas also heavily impacted. But damage was sustained across a much larger area, with 24 Shires affected in total, from here to the Northern Territory border.

After the cyclone, one of the first actions for managers of the natural environment was to work out how heavily impacted the threatened species were in the hard hit areas. Assessment has now shown severe impacts to around half of all remaining mahogany glider habitat, with all habitat showing some impact. Approximately 50% of cassowary habitat was impacted by very destructive winds, with a further 20% by destructive winds.

Drawing on what was learnt after Cyclone Larry, there was a quick response to the needs of the Southern Cassowary. QPWS undertook the initial impact assessment within several days of Yasi crossing the coast and immediately began setting up feed stations and coordinating landholders and volunteers to get food out to cassowaries within 2 weeks. These actions took around 8 weeks to establish after Larry. Also 2 weeks after the cyclone, 50 people came to a public meeting organised by Terrain NRM to help with cassowary habitat recovery. The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM), Main Roads, Council and others were there to address individual concerns and work out how best to work together to help the cassowaries.

To date, DERM have installed 100 cassowary feeding stations, with 32 landholders also supporting the program with feed stations on their properties. Local people have given DERM tremendous support by reporting sick, injured or orphaned cassowaries (ph 1300 130 372), cassowaries near roads (cassowary.sighting@derm.qld.gov.au) and by volunteering to cut up fruit (ph 4091 8102). It is expected that supplementary feeding could last for 12-18 months until native fruits are producing in a large enough supply. Feed stations are located away from roads and backyards to reduce interaction between cassowaries, people, traffic and dogs. Regrettably, two cassowaries have died as a result of vehicle strike since the cyclone - one on the Mission Beach-Tully Road and another near Malanda. is a timely reminder to drive with care in cassowary habitat.

CSIRO, Birds Australia and DERM are collectively monitoring cassowaries following Yasi. Information is being collected through people reporting sightings, and through a CSIRO program using faecal DNA to analyse the cassowary population, and it will assist in our long term understanding of the condition of the species. Cameras have been installed at some feed stations to monitor use. Unique video footage was also captured by a ranger at one station, of an adult cassowary dropping food from the bin onto the ground to feed its three chicks. This footage has assisted with feed station design as it wasn't previously known that cassowaries would do this.

Cassowary at feeding station

Cassowary at feeding station (photo DERM)

Once the cassowary response was underway, attention quickly turned to the plight of the endangered Mahogany Glider. The Mahogany Glider occurs from south of Ollera Creek north to the Hull River and it relies on nectar, sap and insects for food as well as numerous available tree hollows for dens. With 80% of its original habitat cleared and what remains becoming increasingly fragmented, the loss of food and den resources from the cyclone is of great concern. It is likely, with the added impact of the cyclone, that numbers of Mahogany Gliders will decline over coming years in narrow linear corridors and isolated fragments. The larger continuous habitat areas should be able to continue to sustain current populations.

Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (WPSQ) volunteers kicked off the recovery effort with Daryl Dickson coordinating a call for landholders to put their hands up to have supplementary feed stations and den boxes on their properties. WPSQ in Brisbane appealed to their members to assist and were flooded with support. The RSPCA has been organising food mixes and numerous volunteer organisations have built den boxes.

DERM have established a Mahogany Glider Response Program and have been working hard to contact landholders, install feed stations and den boxes, set up monitoring points and coordinate volunteers. Around 70 feed stations at 20 different sites and 60 den boxes have been installed to date. Approximately 17 landholders are supporting the program. The feed stations may only be needed for a short time as blossom is already returning to several tree species in the area. WPSQ will assist in supporting this program with funds from The Foundation for Australia's Most Endangered Species. This funding will allow the use of cameras to monitor feed stations and check occupancy of den boxes. Dr John Winter will lead a program with students from James Cook University and School for International Training. More volunteers will be required from Easter onwards to assist with monitoring. DERM will also be establishing permanent monitoring sites for long term monitoring of the species.

Mahogany Glider 'Stoney'. photo D. Dickson

Mahogany Glider 'Stoney' (photo D. Dickson)

Many other organisations and supporters have become involved in Mahogany Glider recovery, including Tolga Bat Hospital, Hollow Log Homes, Men's Shed Cairns, Men's Shed Brisbane, Hinchinbrook Shire Council, Cassowary Coast Regional Council Disaster Management, Girringun Rangers, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Mossman High School, Brian Lennox, Carolyn Emms, QPWS Mossman (Tina Alderson), QPWS Mackay (Tina Ball), School for Field Studies, ABC Radio Far North and Channel 9 News Cairns.

Mahogany Glider release den. photo D Dickson.

Mahogany Glider release den (photo D Dickson)

Those involved are also trying to reduce the threat of barbed wire fences to Mahogany Gliders with the opportunity to rebuild during cyclone recovery, replacing the top strand with plain wire. For ideas on how to make a fence that is wildlife friendly go to: www.wildlifefriendlyfencing.com

After Cyclone Larry in 2006, the environmental impact of both the cyclone and the clean-up effort generated concern. Impacts included: hungry and wandering wildlife (especially cassowaries); excessive clearing of vegetation; huge mulch piles posing a fire risk, as well as the fire risk to crops and habitat from large amounts of fallen vegetation; weeds being spread by clean-up equipment; weeds taking over damaged rainforest; and of course pigs - which get everyone's goat.

One of the very encouraging things post-Yasi has been a much clearer integration of natural resource management issues into recovery activities leading to a faster response on many of the issues identified post-Larry. However they all still remain a problem, with mulch, fire and weed risk, and damage to habitat from the clean-up effort, currently being the greatest concern. Terrain NRM has recently secured Cyclone Recovery funds allowing the employment of 50 people in work teams that will be specially trained in low impact habitat clean-up, and targeted through the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation to work in areas with high quality natural values. Employment priority will be given to workers displaced by the cyclone.

The clearest message to emerge from what we have learnt after Larry and Yasi is that larger areas of habitat with good connectivity are the most resilient to the impacts of natural disasters. The big cyclonic events that hit our region drive the combinations of species across the area and it is these events that can push a threatened species to extinction. Landscape resilience allows for recovery from natural disasters and adaptation to threats and changes. For the long term security of cassowaries, mahogany gliders and other species, a connected landscape with adequate habitat areas is vital.

For more information about the natural environment and cyclone recovery visit:

Mahogany Glider at den opening. Photo D Dickson.

Mahogany Glider at den opening (photo D Dickson)

Mahogany Glider - Petaurus gracilis

information from Daryl Dickson

The Mahogany Glider is a gliding possum, approximately four times the size of the sugar glider, weighing around 400 grams.

  • The Mahogany Glider has a long and thin tail, which is grayish with the last third black, the tail length is about 1 and a half times the length of their body.
  • Belly colour ranges from cream (when young) to deep apricot (mostly mature older animals).
  • They have a dark dorsal stripe across their forehead and along their backs (just like their cousins the sugar and squirrel gliders).
  • General coat colour ranging from grey to rufous grey.
  • They live in lowland Eucalypt and Melaleuca woodland (not rainforest).
  • Extremely limited distribution - approx 120 km long - between Ollera Creek south of Ingham to just south of Tully, below 120 m elevation.
  • Food includes nectar, pollen, sap, and arboreal arthropods.

For more information visit: www.wildcardart.com.au


The Learning Never Stops

Ian Freeman

"It wont work, you're mad," I said. "The block's aspect is South East and is fully exposed to the wind and rain, it's next to the scungy acacia regrowth, it's covered by grass 2 metres high which is smothered by lantana and tobacco bush, the soil is old metamorphic and devoid in everything except clay minerals, Maroobi Creek will flood and will cut you off from the rest of the world, there's no electricity, no phone, no council services and we hardly know anyone - but there are plenty of toads, ticks, scrub itch mites, snakes and whatever else you don't want. And to top it off we don't know anything about planting trees." As usual, she took no notice.

Life 's journey is seldom a straight course. After Agricultural College, a year of dairy farming at Atherton and another of water skiing at Lake Barrine and with Ski World on the Gold Coast, I did a Vet Science Degree and worked in a mixed animal practice at Ipswich. The phone went, I answered and a Professor's voice that I recognised asked, "How would you like to work in the Solomon Islands for a few years?" "Yes," I said, silence for a minute. "Are you sure?" he asked. "Yes," I said. "Better talk to your wife and I'll phone you tomorrow night," he said and hung up.

I went home and looked up the atlas to find out exactly where the Solomon Islands were. Thirteen years later, after getting the cattle industry there onto its feet, having lots of fun including diving in waters up to 140 feet deep to help salvage propeller blades from sunken WW2 ships, observing some of the devastation that logging, oil palm plantations and other activities can inflict on the environment, we came back to Australia. The kids got educated while I worked for AQIS for 20 years making sure that the customers around the world got meat from animals that were humanely killed, was true to label and fit to eat. During this time, Beth Smyth and I renewed an old friendship and became partners. Once retired we spent 5 months of each year sailing up and down the Queensland coast, Princess Charlotte Bay to Moreton Bay, the rest of the year riding bikes around Brisbane, Tasmania, Oregon and the UK, 16 grandkids between us, happy and fit but fairly direction-less. Somehow Beth 's idea of planting rainforest trees onto a block she'd bought on the Tablelands in 1984 resurfaced. In her head, not mine.

We have been interested in the environment for more than 20 years, been long term members of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (WPSQ) and contribute to Bush Heritage and Australian Wildlife Conservancy, but to actively get down and dirty in reveging big areas (big to us anyway) was something rather different.

Fortunately, because of Beth's contacts in the environment fraternity we had a head start in how to get good information in a short time - she had been an early member of TREAT and associated with WPSQ and knew Joan Wright and Sandy and Doug Clague. Ask heaps of questions, find out who have done the work and talk to them and read everything possible - 'Repairing the Rainforest' by Nigel Tucker and Steve Goosem, all of Yuruga Nursery's printed information, Garry Sankowsy's DVDs and TREAT's 'Helpful Hints'. Rejoin TREAT and get involved in the everyday aspects of the business by volunteering, soaking up the knowledge that is available, and attend tree plantings. And, very important, visit other plantings such as Sandy's, Angela and Mark's, and learn from their experience.

So after all the reading and listening to good advice we knew all about planting rainforest, got our first trees from TREAT, swung the mattock and we were into it. Each time we came north we got a few more trees and I put up with all of Beth's visions, doing a lot of the physical work, and was usually happy to get back home to Brisbane.

Planting around remnant 12th March, 2011

Planting around remnant 12th March, 2011

Despite all the learning and hard work, outcomes were not always as expected - dingoes, scrub fowl, turkeys and bandicoots dug things up, pademelons and wallabies ate things, drought (it does happen) made things die, bugs ate them, the planting holes were too far apart, too small and I will not attempt to describe how the weeds grew better than what we planted. All this was very disturbing when we thought we knew everything there was to be known about planting trees. But slowly we did learn. With every set-back or observation, we asked questions, did more reading, tried a different approach and slowly we did get better success and finally a sense of satisfaction.

About the time of Penny Scott's Peterson Creek damp planting (i.e. waterlogged sort of damp), the whole concept of corridors, trees, wildlife, friends and the wonderful world of learning and new experiences, started to take shape.

But Beth's trees, especially in the first year or so still grew so slowly and seemed to die by so many different causes that it wasn't really rewarding for us on her block. Then suddenly they seemed to take off. Strong, interesting, wildlife friendly, living, beautiful trees. It did work. Plant the right trees correctly in the right place and mostly they do grow and look wonderful - they usually just take a year or so to settle in and then get a go on.

Now, on her 5 acres 4 and a half years later, there are 1000 rainforest trees planted up against a wonderful acacia regrowth forest, full of birds and animals, a great shed, wonderful cottage, we have a network of friends full of all the knowledge that we will ever need, and better than anything else, smiles on our faces and lots of mud and sweat on bodies and clothes. So, we were hooked. We could do this thing and it was giving us satisfaction.

I thought that it was time to take on a more major project, something to not only keep us occupied for many years but one that would also have a major win for the environment. So, with assistance from people such as Keith Smith, Jo Doecke and others we started to search for a worthwhile block. I was in Brisbane when the phone rang, a friend who had just been visiting near Lake Eacham said, "The Trevor's farm is coming up for auction, it is in 4 lots. You may be interested." I Google Earthed and emailed Jo Doecke and Keith Smith (they were stunned as this was news to them). I looked at the Peterson Creek Corridor, thought of the efforts of TREAT and of so many dedicated people over so many years, thought about the tree-kangaroos, and cassowaries that used to be at Lake Barrine so many years ago, and there was no escaping destiny - Lot 1 simply had to come into the 21st century and help make up for past mistakes.

Year 2011, March 12th, and the first 2500 (of the 25,000 required?) tree seedlings were put into the ground, with special thanks to Larry Crook and Yungaburra Landcare, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Tablelands Community Revegetation Unit, QPWS, TREAT and of course the 77 wonderful people who did the planting.

Now it's guaranteed that there will be mud, sweat and dirty clothes for at least the next 10 years, but most of all, the continuation of wonderful friendships and the knowledge that we still have so much to learn and experience. The learning never stops.

"Told you it would work and be fun," I said to Beth last week. That Mona Lisa smile - "Of course you did," she said.


Which Trees and Why

Angela McCaffrey

There are so many different types of trees and shrubs in the rainforest. Wendy and William Cooper's 'Fruits of the Australian Rainforest' lists 2436 different plants and that excludes ferns and orchids. It would be impossible to plant a complete natural rainforest all at once so how do revegetation nurseries decide what to grow?

It is almost 30 years since TREAT began and experience has shown that if you plant the basic structure of a forest and help it reach canopy height, it will change the environment within itself, create leaf litter, develop friable and humus-rich soils and a low light level which will both inhibit weeds and become receptive to germination of rainforest seeds brought in by birds and bats, continuing the transformation back to rainforest.

Nurseries and landholders wanting to propagate trees for revegetation are faced with the question of how to create the basic structure? Which trees and how many of each give the best results? As private landholders, like most people starting out on this journey, we began growing seedlings from opportunistic finds of fruit in our forest block or from gifts of fruit from friends doing the same thing. We identified them using 'Cooper's' or the CSIRO Rainforest Key and then used the techniques we had learnt at TREAT to grow seedlings. This led to large quantities of plants which we didn't really need, understorey plants, species not right for our forest type or trays of seed which for some reason didn't germinate taking up valuable space in our small home nursery. So we soon turned to a more scientific approach realizing the first thing to consider is:

Location.

The forests of the Wet Tropics of Australia have been classified into over 20 different types of forest. Each type has some species exclusive to it and others which cross over several types. Nurseries such as the Lake Eacham nursery and the Tablelands Community Revegetation Unit have to grow trees for several different types of forest. As the general aim is to put back the forest which would have naturally occurred prior to clearing, it is important to know which type of forest would have existed on each chosen revegetation site and grow suites of trees specifically for each forest type. QPWS/ TREAT concentrate mainly on four types: Mabi forest RE 7.8.3 found around Atherton and Yungaburra, Hypsi forest RE 7.8.2 growing on the eastern edge of the Southern Tablelands such as Lakes Barrine and Eacham, through Malanda and Millaa Millaa, Upland/ Highland forest RE 7.8.4 such as in the Upper Barron area and Evelyn Tablelands, and some coastal forests RE 7.3.10 for plantings largely on National Parks such as at Eubenangee Swamp. The hardening off bays of the Lake Eacham nursery are split up between these different forest types.

Hardiness in Open Plantings.

Rainforests are mainly areas of low light levels and seedlings can sit on the forest floor for years waiting for an event such as a tree falling to bring enough light to grow. They vary in the amount of strong light they can stand. Most revegetation plantings are in open ground in areas of paddocks which have been cleared of weeds and grasses, so we need trees that will survive full sun in wind-swept areas with little or no protection. Tree species have been tested over the years and the lists refined to exclude those that will not survive such conditions.

Ease of Germination and Life in a Pot to Planting Stage.

The species chosen by revegetation nurseries have to germinate in artificial conditions. Some species readily lend themselves to germination in a seed raising mix in nursery conditions and others do not. They then have to survive the potting up process and sit out in the hardening off bays in full sun until planting season comes around and they have sufficiently developed in the pot with a strong root system and the potential to survive in a planting location. Refinement of the species list takes into account all of these factors.

Pioneers.

These are trees which have evolved to take advantage of a natural event which clears or opens up forests, such as a cyclone. They grow extremely quickly creating a canopy which controls weeds and gives conditions which slower growing species enjoy. A negative side of these species is that they tend to shed limbs early and die young within a 15 to 30 years span, creating more openings again and crushing other trees as they fall. The pros and cons of these trees such as the fact that they tend to flower and fruit at a very young stage bringing in birds and therefore additional seed/ species makes them an important variable in revegetation. What percentage of trees should be pioneers is debatable and depends on such factors as how far away from mature forest the planting site is and what maintenance regime will follow the initial planting.

Special Areas such as Creeks and Edges.

Some trees thrive in specific conditions. Imagine a creek bank in a rainforest and notice there is more light but also more protection from strong wind. There is more water available but also flooding and strong currents to contend with in the wet season. Certain trees have evolved to handle exactly these conditions and so we propagate these to plant up such areas. Many revegetation projects use a creek as a focal point to create a natural corridor across the landscape, to assist with erosion of soil and water quality improvement, so these species become an important component of the species list. Similarly, some trees naturally prefer the edges of forest and can be used to seal in the rainforest environment protecting it from weeds, grasses and strong light levels.

Infill and Understorey including Vines.

After plantings have reached a canopy stage there may be an opportunity, depending on such things as funding, to increase the biodiversity, fill in gaps and generally make the forest closer to a natural forest state by planting softer understorey plants including vines which would not have survived the stress of an open planting. This may include low growing species such as gingers to assist in closing edges and improving the forest floor environment.

There are many factors to take into account when deciding which species to collect for propagation in the nursery whether it is a large organisation with many projects on the go or the home nursery developed for one specific site. All this information has been collected over the many years in the life of TREAT and revegetation nurseries. Through trial and error, observation and experiment, today's knowledge has been distilled so that people can quickly learn what works, what to propagate and the quantities required.

With the earliest plantings now over 25 years old, we can see how well different strategies in such areas as weed control, fertiliser use, plant spacings, pioneer percentages etc. work, and how they have stood up to challenges such as frosts and cyclones, and so the knowledge continually feeds back to refine the processes. Happily the QPWS staff and experienced TREAT members are always ready to answer questions and share their knowledge to get the best outcome for the environment and for all of us.


The Wet Season Plantings

Barb Lanskey

Walking back after the planting at Emms'

Walking back after the planting at Emms'

The community planting season didn't start well. Access to the first planting (at Richard Standen's) was very wet, and the Terrain NRM revegetation team decided it would be inappropriate to bog up the tracks with more vehicles on the scheduled planting day, so did the relatively small planting themselves. When it was reported they had to dodge jumping ants and a black snake, we were not too disappointed.

The second planting, at Massey Creek, was cancelled because of Cyclone Yasi coming during the week. Half of this planting has now been done - see Nick's 'Nursery News' this newsletter.

The third planting, at Carolyn Emms', went ahead as scheduled, but the wet weather held back some site preparation, bogging vehicles, and Carolyn had to organise a late rescue with the Tablelands Community Revegetation Unit. It was a muddy and slow ride in Phil's trailer to the planting site, and most volunteers walked in the end. Trees were planted in all the augered holes and volunteers then helped place trees in other scooped holes ready for a team from Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) coming the next day.

Mark and Angela McCaffrey had a day of sun before their planting, and although the planting day was cloudy, it was surprisingly sunny for a few days afterwards, which stressed a few of the trees. Angela reported they all recovered when the rain returned. The early wet weather disrupted site preparations for two-thirds of TREAT's Peterson Creek site at the Williams' property. The main fencing couldn't be done nor spraying of the area across a second arm of the creek. However, the area adjacent to last year's planting was prepared and although it was a very wet site, 1000 trees were planted there.

Planting at TREAT's Peterson Creek

Planting at TREAT's Peterson Creek

The sixth planting was at Peter and Catriona Arnold-Nott's place and it was a really good day - cloudy conditions for planting, plenty of volunteers, and rain overnight to water in the trees.

Ian Freeman's planting for TREAT's Peterson Creek Wildlife Corridor was also a good day with similar conditions. Site preparation was achieved in some windows of opportunity in the weather and only a small area was too wet to be planted on the day.

Plantings at Freemans and Arnold-Notts

Socialising after Ian Freeman's planting Planting at Arnold-Nott's.

The next planting at Jaggan had to be cancelled because site preparation couldn't be completed satisfactorily with the continuing wet weather. The planting at the Stocker's property, also at Jaggan, had to be cancelled as well.

The day of Chris and Claire Ogle's planting started with rain which conveniently turned to drizzle as the planting got under way, and after a while it became quite sunny. There weren't many volunteers at the beginning, but numbers kept increasing and all 3250 trees were planted.

For the tenth planting, at Rock Road, site preparations had been done well in advance. Access was a problem though, and volunteers were transported over the last part of the road in a troop carrier and other 4WD vehicles. Some of the planting site was very steep, and this area was planted during the week by CVA volunteers. The remaining area was on an easier grade slope but the track down to it was a bit slippery. Even the little 'all terrain' vehicle had to be helped over one muddy spot on the way back. It was a windy, overcast day, so the barbecue site with extensive views couldn't be fully appreciated, and the mud coming through the gravel underfoot didn't help either.

There is one planting left to do, and it's expected to go ahead as the main wet weather should be over now.

In general, although the wet weather has often been a nuisance, it has been good for the trees, especially those in previous plantings. We had a better than usual turnout of volunteers and the School for Field Studies students came to four plantings. At Rock Road, a group of them made a point of telling me how much they enjoyed them.

This year TREAT alternated two catering teams to provide the barbecues after the plantings, and Claire Ogle provided the barbecue after her planting.

The rest of the Massey Creek planting will be completed soon, but the remainder of TREAT's Peterson Creek planting will have to be completed later in the year. The Jaggan plantings that were cancelled will most likely be done later in the year as well.


Nursery News

Nick Stevens

In early January we farewelled Scotty Davidson who departed to broaden his horizons and we welcomed Darren Caulfield back to the nursery following his stint in park management with QPWS at the Tinaroo Base. We also farewelled Teesha at the end of January, and she and her partner had a baby girl in March - Congratulations from us all!

QPWS staff and the Terrain NRM revegetation team were all prepared to start digging holes for the 2011 Massey Creek planting when the weather took a turn for the worse with the impending arrival of Cyclone Yasi. At some point Yasi directed some quite damaging winds onto exposed parts of the 2008 and 2009 planting sites at Massey Creek, breaking off the tops of many of the faster growing pioneer species and burying the smaller trees below the canopy with debris, as well as laying flat almost everything planted on the exposed edges of the sites. QPWS staff spent a day clearing branches from the smaller trees, but there is still much to do here in the future.

Having cancelled the scheduled community planting, we still had almost 3000 trees prepared to go into this year's planting site. Approximately 50% of this year's site was planted by QPWS staff and eight TREAT volunteers over 2 days (14 and 15 February) with assistance from the Terrain NRM revegetation team and Conservation Volunteers Australia's National Green Jobs Corps Team. Further planting will be undertaken this season to complete this year's site, but is yet to be scheduled.

For the planting season so far this year, over 8000 trees have been distributed to TREAT members, over 5000 for TREAT projects, over 7500 for QPWS projects, as well as 2600 to Terrain NRM and 1500 to the Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group, for their projects. We are also expecting to distribute trees for some larger QPWS projects this year at Mossman and Mowbray, as well as for smaller jobs such as infilling planted areas like the car park at the Mamu Canopy Walkway which suffered significant losses from Cyclone Yasi.

Seed collections which have been affected on the southern tablelands and coastal lowlands south of Cairns to about Innisfail, are mostly returning to normal now. Extensive canopy damage to forest areas south of Innisfail, particularly in the Mission Beach to Ingham area, means these forests will be unproductive for quite some time to come.


Fruit Collection Diary January- March 2011

SpeciesCommon NameCollection Location/
Regional Ecosystem
Agathis robusta Queensland Kauri Pine7.8.2, 7.8.3
Alpinia caerulea Native ginger7.8.2, 7.8.3
Alstonia scholaris Milky Pine7.8.2, 7.8.3
Athertonia diversifolia Atherton Oak7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Castanospora alphandii Brown Tamarind7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Cupaniopsis foveolata White Tamarind7.8.2, 7.8.3
Darlingia darlingiana Brown Oak7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Dianella atraxis Northern Flax Lilly7.8.3
Dianella caerulea Blue Flax Lilly7.8.3
Dichapetalum papuanum  7.8.3
Dinosperma erythrococcum Tingle Tongue7.8.3
Dysoxylum mollissimum sbsp. Molle Miva Mahogany7.8.2, 7.8.3
Elaeocarpus coorangooloo Brown Quandong7.8.3
Emmenosperma alphitonioides Bone Wood7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Ficus congesta Red Leaf Fig7.8.2, 7.8.3
Ficus hispida Hairy Fig7.8.2, 7.8.3
Flindersia bourjotiana Silver Ash7.8.3
Flindersia brayleyana Queensland Maple7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Flindersia pimenteliana Maple Silkwood7.8.4
Geissios biagiana Brush Mahogany7.8.2
Gmelina faciculiflora White Beech7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Hollandea sayeriana Sayer's Silky Oak7.8.2
Mallotus philippensis Red Kamala7.8.2, 7.8.3
Melodorum leichhardtii Acid Drop Vine7.8.2, 7.8.3
Mischocarpus pyriiformis Pear Fruited Tamarind7.8.2, 7.8.4
Neisosperma poweri Milkbush/ Red Boat Tree7.8.4
Phaleria clerodendron Scented Daphne7.8.2
Pilidiostigma tropicum Apricot Myrtle7.8.3
Pittosporum wingii Hairy Pittosporum7.8.2
Rhysotoechia robertsonii Robert's Tuckeroo7.8.2, 7.8.3
Sloanea australis sbsp parviflora Blush Alder7.8.2
Stenocarpus sinuatus White Silky Oak7.8.3
Syzygium australe Creek Cherry7.8.2, 7.8.3
Toechima pterocarpum Orange Tamarind7.3.10
Toona ciliata Red Cedar7.8.2, 7.8.3
Trema orientalis Peach Cedar7.8.2, 7.8.3
Terminalia sericocarpa Damson Plum7.8.2, 7.8.3

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